The New York Times is reportedly investigating Ali Watkins, its national security reporter whose phone and email records were seized as part of the Justice Department’s crackdown on unauthorized leaks.
The paper announced Tuesday it is “reviewing” Watkins’ past reporting, in light of allegations that she may have received classified information from James Wolfe, a Senate Intelligence Committee veteran who she was romantically involved with.
“Ms. Watkins informed The Times about the prior relationship after she was hired by the paper, and before she began work in December. She has said that Mr. Wolfe did not provide her with information during the course of their relationship,” Michael Grynbaum reports.
Court documents show the national security reporter was made aware February 13 that the Justice Department obtained “years of records for two email accounts and a phone number of hers” as part of its investigation into Wolfe.
On Thursday, Justice Department officials announced charges against Wolfe, accusing the 58-year-old of making false statements to the FBI about the transmission of classified information.
Wolfe told the FBI that he was romantically involved with Watkins since 2013, court documents say.
“I’ve watched your career take off even before you ever had a career in journalism… I always tried to give you as much Information [sic] that I could and to do the right thing with it so you could get that scoop before anyone else,” Wolfe wrote to an individual the documents identify as REPORTER #2 — widely believed to be Watkins.
“I always enjoyed the way that you would pursue a story, like nobody else was doing in my hal1way [sic],” Wolfe allegedly said to Watkins in December 2017. “I felt like I was part of your excitement and was always very supportive of your career and the tenacity that you exhibited to chase down a good story.”
Both Watkins and her lawyer, Mark J. MacDougall, declined to give comment to the New York Times.